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Noah Smith

Richard Florida Now Sees the Downside of Urban Revival

Superstar cities can't help all the places and people being left behind.
Bright lights, hot city.

Bright lights, hot city.

Cities drive economic growth in service- and knowledge-based economies. They bring together smart, educated, ambitious people -- the creative class -- where they can exchange ideas, start businesses and raise the capital needed to put them into action. But the transformation of the cities is not without drawbacks. More and more, cities are places where inequality is rising as increasing housing costs drive out the low-income and working classes. In the early 2000s, urbanist Richard Florida documented the growth of the creative class and heralded it as a boon for cities. But he has since had some second thoughts about the impact on those left behind. Bloomberg View columnist Noah Smith decided to interview Florida to discuss his new book on cities. What follows is a lightly edited version of their discussion. 

Noah Smith: In your book, "The New Urban Crisis," you spend a lot of time talking about inequality within cities. But you also mention inequality between cities -- how some cities are prospering while others languish. These seem like two different crises to me. In a recent blog post, you even suggest that there’s a tradeoff between addressing within-city and between-city inequality -- that eliminating the development restrictions that are pricing working-class people out of superstar cities like San Francisco would result in those cities pulling even farther ahead of the rest of the country.